Illusions, Delusions, and Your Backwards Bayesian Brain: A Biased Visual Perspective

Published Date: 
March 30, 2021

The retinal image is insufficient for determining what is "out there," because many different real-world geometries could produce any given retinal image. Thus, the visual system must infer which external cause is most likely, given both the sensory data and prior knowledge that is either innate or learned via interactions with the environment. We will describe a general framework of "hierarchical Bayesian inference" that we and others have used to explore the role of cortico-cortical feedback in the visual system, and we will further argue that this approach to "seeing" makes our visual systems prone to perceptual errors in a variety of different ways. In this deliberately provocative and biased perspective, we argue that the neuromodulator, dopamine, may be a crucial link between neural circuits performing Bayesian inference and the perceptual idiosyncrasies of people with schizophrenia.

Richard T Born, Gianluca M Bencomo